Indians block Panama roads in debate over mining

February 2, 2012 - 10:45 PM
APTOPIX Panama Indian Blockade

Protesters from the Ngobe-Bugle tribe block a road during a protest in El Vigui, Panama, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. Members of the Indian tribe blocked roads in two provinces on the border with Costa Rica in a dispute over mineral exploitation on their lands. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Members of an Indian tribe in Panama are blocking roads in two provinces on the border with Costa Rica in a dispute over mineral exploitation on their lands.

Protesters from the Ngobe-Bugle tribe have been manning roadblocks of stones and branches set up Monday in Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui in western Panama. They have also closed sections of road in Veraguas province.

A tribal spokesman told The Associated Press on Thursday that the protesters will not negotiate directly with the government but want discussions with the Central American country's Legislative Assembly. The assembly has taken initial steps toward lifting a mining moratorium in the region where many of the tribe's members live.